UC Merced Teams with USC to Improve Reporting Health Care in Central California

21 journalists from Modesto to Ventura are set to participate in pioneering multicultural program

MERCED, CA — The USC Annenberg School for Communication and the University of California, Merced, are proud to announce the Central California fellows who have been selected to participate in the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a new fellowship program for medical, health care and health care justice reporting.

The Fellowships, for print, broadcast and Internet journalists in California, focus on the craft and the content of health care journalism. The program's inaugural sessions in Central California are co-sponsored and hosted by UC Merced at the university's educational and outreach center in Fresno.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with this talented group of journalists," said Michelle Levander, the director of The California Endowment Fellowships. "Our fellows are committed to examining the region's stark health disparities as well as the cultural nuances of health care in California."

This pioneering journalism initiative, funded with a $1.8 million grant from the California Endowment, aims to set a national standard for multicultural health care media coverage.

"We are committed to the continuing professional education of working journalists," said Michael Parks, the former Los Angeles Times editor who now directs USC Annenberg's School of Journalism. "All journalists — not just those on the beat — need to understand health care issues," he adds. "The rising cost of care is a critical part of the story when it comes to politics, immigration, the economy and family life."

"UC Merced is delighted to be a part of this inaugural effort with USC," said David B. Ashley, executive vice chancellor and provost of UC Merced. "We look forward to providing this outstanding group of journalists with professional development opportunities, which ultimately benefit the region by improving reporting of health care issues pertinent to Central California's diverse populations."

USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellows will attend two intensive three-day regional seminars, take field trips in the community and meet with prominent health and medical experts and top journalists in the field. The fellowships also provide an opportunity for multicultural collaboration among journalists attending from mainstream, ethnic and foreign-language media. This year's Central California Fellows come from the leading general circulation, Spanish-language and Hmong print and broadcast news outlets in the region.

Participating journalists selected as fellows are:

  • Barbara Anderson (Health Reporter, The Fresno Bee)
  • Juliana Barbassa (Central Valley Reporter, Associated Press)
  • Nada Behziz (Health Reporter, The Bakersfield Californian)
  • Reina Cardenas (News Reporter, KFTV 21 Univisión)
  • Kenneth Carlson (Staff Writer, The Modesto Bee)
  • Tracy Correa (Reporter, The Fresno Bee)
  • Laura Florez (Reporter, Visalia Times-Delta)
  • Liz Harrison (Anchor/Reporter, KFSN 30 ABC)
  • Stephanie Hoops (General Assignment Reporter, Ventura County Star)
  • Ann Hong (Anchor/Reporter, KGPE 47 CBS)
  • Erica Jones (Publisher/Editor, EthnosAge Communications Inc.)
  • Sasha Khokha (Central Valley Reporter, KQED, The California Report)
  • Alma Martinez (Associate Producer, Radio Bilingüe)
  • Freddy Oldenburg (News Producer, KFTV 21 Univisión)
  • Rosario Ortiz (Reporter, El Californiano/The Bakersfield Californian)
  • Sara Shakir (Managing News Producer, Radio Bilingüe)
  • Melanie Turner (Higher Ed Reporter, The Modesto Bee)
  • Bob Tyrcha (Senior Producer, Valley Public Television, KVPT)
  • Ben Vue (General Manager, Asian Media Group)
  • Nathan Welton (Staff Writer - County Gov't & Health Care, The Tribune)
  • Eiji Yamashita (Reporter, The Hanford Sentinel)

During the seminars, journalists will hear from speakers including:

  • Charles Ornstein, author of a five-part investigative report on the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center in The Los Angeles Times, who will teach a workshop on covering local hospitals.
  • Dr. Ivan Oransky, deputy editor of The Scientist and editor-in-chief of Health and the Media, who will teach a workshop on interpreting medical statistics and medical studies.
  • Dr. Richard Jackson, California's public health officer, who will speak on the links between the community environment and public health, or "Is the Super-Sizing of Everything Healthy?"
  • Dr. Francesca Gany, Director of the Center for Immigrant Health at New York University.
  • Dr. William Dietz, Director, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Dietz conducted the first study to demonstrate the relationship between television viewing and obesity in children.
  • Kate Long, a veteran writing coach, print and radio journalist, and author of a 2004 Gerald Loeb award-winning series on health care in the Charleston (WV) Gazette.

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation created in 1996, has as its mission to expand access to affordable, quality health care for the underserved and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Guiding The Endowment's work is a multicultural approach to health.

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